2012 Edition

Sustainability Research Symposium @ McGill 2012 – ‘Sustainability & the City’

“Good cities are good places to live. But they take work”  – Troy Austin.

Last spring we were joined by a group of amazing volunteers, enthusiastic participants, and three phenomenal keynote speakers to put into action the second annual McGill Sustainability Research Symposium.  The event continued the broad conversation of sustainability from the previous year, and honed in on a topic close to home for all of us: ‘Sustainability and the City.’  The symposium addressed the underlying question of what role cities must play in sustaining our growing global population.  The resounding success of the event in only its second year leads to great optimism and excitement for the coming year’s symposium.  While we’re gearing up for this spring’s symposium (more information to come soon!), lets take a look at a brief re-cap of what went down last year:



Last years’ event was held on Thursday March 8, 2012, at the Thomson House Ballroom.  The morning of the symposium featured three keynote speeches:

Austin Troy – Associate Professor, University of Vermont


Dr. Austin Troy is a leading scientist in urban environments and author of a newly released book, The Very Hungry City (Yale Press, 2012). His work explores issues of the environment in cities, suburbs and exurbs focusing on policy and the economics of land use–particularly the causes and impacts of urban/suburban development (i.e. “sprawl”) and the effectiveness of policies in mediating those impacts. His book ‘The Very Hungry City’ evaluates how cities consume energy, painting portraits of how and why some cities have developed into healthier and wealthier places to live while others have fallen into economic and ecological crisis.

He is also interested in urban vegetation: where it is, where it isn’t, what its benefits are, how its configuration affects those benefits, and how planting should be prioritized.

Zachary Patterson – Assistant Professor Tier-II,  Conconrdia University 

zpattersonDr. Patterson is Tier-II Canada Research Chair in Transportation and Land Use Linkages for Regional Sustainability. Zachary’s research focuses on the modeling of transportation, the environment, land-use and their linkages. He is currently a member of the Transportation Research Board’s Planning Applications Committee (ADB50), its Land Development Committee (ADD30), the Global Environmental and Climate Change Centre (GEC3) and of the Interuniversity Research Centre on Enterprise Networks, Logistics and Transportation (CIRRELT).

Petra Döll – Associate Professor of Hydrology at the University of Frankfurt


Prof. Petra Döll is Professor of Hydrology at the University of Frankfurt, Germany (http://www.geo.uni-frankfurt.de/ipg/ag/dl/index.html). She focuses on two research fields, “Global Water Modelling“ and “Participatory Methods and Transdisciplinary Research in Natural Resources Management“. She has (co-)authored more than 45 publications in peer-reviewed journals (http://www.researcherid.com/rid/A-3784-2009). Prof. Döll is lead author of the fourth and fifth assessment reports of the IPCC. Currently, she is on sabbatical at McGill University, Montreal, Canada.

After speaking individually, the three speakers engaged in a panel discussion, mediated by Prof Madhav Badami of the McGill School of Environment and the School of Urban Planning. This was a wonderful opportunity for participants to pose questions directly to the speakers.

The afternoon of the symposium was filled with interactive participation from the attendees and more opportunities for interacting with others and networking – this included poster displays, student research presentations and a roundtable discussion session!

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